A budding Eastern Cape model who is fast gaining popularity for her astounding charity work in her community as much as for her talent on on the catwalk, has won a dream opportunity to represent the country in a prestigious international beauty pageant in Turkey in two months’ time.
But that dream could go up in smoke if 14-year-old Zukhanye Funani is not able to raise more than R80000 she and her mother need for the overseas trip.
At the tender age of only 13, Zukhanye, a Maclear High School Grade 8 pupil, was the youngest entrant in the popular Miss Teen Eastern Cape pageant last year, where she finished in the top five.
From September 24 to October 4 this year, she will be vying for three coveted crowns in the Miss Little Princess World/Universe and Globe beauty pageant league scheduled to take place in Turkey.
Zukhanye’s mother, Nokoyiswa Funani, 53, a school clerk, told the Dispatch that her daughter had been desperately trying to approach people to help with funds needed for the trip.
“She needs about R44000 and as her guardian who will be going with her I also need a similar amount. She is really looking forward to representing South Africa in that competition,” she said.
Funani said such was her daughter’s determination to grace the pageant that she even travelled all the way from Maclear to Tsolo to meet Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, who was attending the launch of a broadband connectivity project in the O R Tambo district last week. “He gave her an email address and after writing him a message, the deputy president said they would have been able to help if it was a school thing and not an individual request.”
The youngster’s once-in-a-lifetime opportunity came in April this year when she sent an application to the pageant organisation after seeing their Facebook post saying people could qualify to be part of a beauty pageant based on their involvement in community work.
Subsequently, she was asked to go to Johannesburg for further assessment, leading to her being crowned Miss Petite Teen 2017 for the Eastern Cape. She also entered the Face of Africa competition where members of the public voted for the winners. Zukhanye finished in the top seven.
Despite her pretty looks, there is however much more to Zukhanye, who dreams of becoming a doctor. Much like her older sister Zenande Funani, 19, she does not shy away from dirtying her hands and helping those less fortunate than she.
Last year the Dispatch reported how Zenande used the money given to her by her parents to buy a new school blazer and cellphone, to instead buy about 100 hand-sanitiser bottles in a bid to promote hygiene among school pupils.
“I used to help her out a lot and I guess that is where my passion for community work comes from,” said Zukhanye.
Zukhanye, an accomplished netball player for her school’s B team and Maclear Academy, spends most of her free weekends volunteering at the Maclear Old Age Home.
She also raised around R1200 all on her own to buy sanitary towels, which she distributed to patients at the local hospital. — firstname.lastname@example.org